Wegmans Considers Closing In-House Coffee Shops

The grocer would install self-serve coffee instead.

April 17, 2023

Wegmans, an East Coast grocer with more than 110 stores, is thinking about getting out of the barista business after seeing a decline in traffic flow to its in-house Buzz Coffee Shops.

Self-serve coffee machines are being tested at a few stores in the Rochester area. The company said in a statement that coffee-brewing technology “has come a long way, and our new self-serve coffee machines use our same high-quality coffee beans and offer a similar menu of lattes, cappuccinos, and brewed coffee drinks.”

According to Supermarket News, the chain points to work-from-home flexibility as the main reason for the traffic declines.

WXXI News in Rochester spoke with supermarket analyst Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group, who said he could understand the need to be more efficient to help lower prices, but that the move could hurt Wegmans’ reputation for being service oriented. “I think there’s a real demand-risk here that competitors can capitalize on over Wegmans stores and Wegmans in-store caffeinated beverage sales,” said Flickinger.

An article in the upcoming May issue of NACS Magazine looks at the case for c-stores adding baristas or cross training their employees to make handcrafted beverages. It notes that the popularity of specialty coffee is at a five-year high. According to the National Coffee Association, 43% of American coffee consumers chose a specialty drink in the past day.